When most people think of New Jersey, one of the first things that comes to mind are the many casinos and gambling destinations in Atlantic City. Even though AC is the only place in New Jersey where you will find brick and mortar casinos, people assume that the state, as a whole, is pro-casino. Last week we learned that such is not the case as voters overwhelmingly shot down the idea of a casino at New Jersey’s Meadowlands. It was shocking enough to see the measure shot down, but more shocking still to see nearly 80% of respondents saying that they oppose the idea.
The ballot question basically asked New Jersey voters if they would be for or against the idea of 2 casinos being built in the Meadowlands, which is a location in Northern New Jersey.
The idea of building two casinos where the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets play their home games was born of Hard Rock International, the company responsible for the hundreds of Hard Rock Café’s all over the world. In the wake of the defeated ballot measure, Hard Rock International’s CEO Jim Allen spoke to the Associated Press and told them that he and his colleagues are prepared to wait years upon years before giving up on this idea. In a public statement made at a Hard Rock event, Allen said, in part, “We’re committed to the state of New Jersey for the long term.” Some say Allen’s commitment won’t extend beyond 2 years, while others are confident that this is a project that will not be given up on until it has come to fruition.
To those within the casino industry, this decision is absolutely bewildering for a number of reasons. Chief among them is a study that was performed by independent analysts. Among many other items, the study concluded that a casino situated in the Meadowlands has the potential to bring in more revenue in a year than any other casino in the United States. Between the hundreds of thousands of people who come to NFL games (amongst other events) every year, and the proximity to New York City, this conclusion seems fairly obvious. Of course, the study went on to say that the casino’s success will only last as long as casinos are not able to be constructed in Manhattan, something that advocates think is only a few years down the road.
Many people are asking why Hard Rock International does not push for the same measure to be added to other votes taking place in the near future, but according to the laws of New Jersey a defeated measure must wait at least 2 years before being voted on again. There are other routes being pursued by Hard Rock, but these are aimed at allowing slot machines to be located at the Meadowlands’ horse track. As far as establishing a full-scale casino, that is something that will undoubtedly need to be approved by residents via a vote before ground can be broken. We will continue to keep a close eye on this story as it evolves and moves forward, but there is likely to be little ground made any time in the near future.